British construction output fell more than first thought in the last three months of 2014, after the number of new homes being built fell for the first time in almost two years, official data showed today. 

Total UK construction output sank by 2.1% in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter.

This was a bigger decline than the 1.8% fall pencilled into an earlier estimate of fourth-quarter national economic output from the Office for National Statistics. 

The volume of new home construction - the driving force for higher construction output earlier in the year - dropped by 0.2% after growing 6.1% in the third quarter of 2014, its first fall since the first three months of 2013. 

The ONS said the decline in new home building reflected reduced orders three to six months earlier. 

Britain's housing market has been slowing since the middle of 2014, when regulators introduced tougher mortgage lending credit checks. 

Annual British house price rises exceeded 10% in the middle of last year, but a survey of members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors this week showed that house prices rose last month at their slowest annual pace since May 2013. 

Construction makes up about 6% of the British economy, and the ONS said the revision to fourth quarter output was not big enough to affect its previous gross domestic product estimate of 0.5% overall growth in Britain's economy. 

For December alone, total construction output rose by just 0.4% after dropping by 1.8% in November, much less of a rebound than the 2.8% growth forecast by economists. 

For 2014 as a whole, output was up 7.4%, the fastest growth since 2010, but momentum is slowing and output in December alone was only 5.5% higher compared with a year earlier. 

Other data have pointed to a slowdown in UK construction at the end of 2014 too. A closely watched survey of purchasing managers fell to a 16-month low in December before picking up in January.